Food: () Outstanding steaks and good sides; the price reflects the quality.

Service: () Outstanding professional service: prompt, efficient and gracious.

Atmosphere: () Many hints of soda-fountain and rancher-friendly heritage remain.

More Info

Location: 64619 Highway 20, Tumalo (Bend)

Hours: 4:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; 4:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Cuisine: Steak and seafood

Price range: Starters $8.95 to $13.95, salads $14.95 to $17.95, burgers and sandwiches $11.95 to $17.95, entrees $16.95 to $45.95

Credit cards: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Kids’ menu: On request

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Salads and sides only

Alcoholic beverages: Full bar; happy hour 4:30 to 6 p.m. nightly in Saloon

Outdoor seating: Patio

Reservations: Recommended

Contact:, 541-382-2202

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For as long as anyone alive today in Central Oregon can remember, there has been a Tumalo Feed Company.

It hasn’t always gone by that name. The yellow clapboard structure on Highway 20, 5 miles northwest of downtown Bend, was constructed in 1964 by was Marshall and Kathy Swearingen to house their antique business. The building was designed and decorated to evoke the West in the 1880s. It was named the Tumalo Emporium. Within a short time, buffet dinners were being served. By 1967, the antique business had been fully transformed into a thriving restaurant and bar.

Ann (Swearingen) and Dave Rasmussen took over management in 1970, and the Swearingen family owned the Tumalo Emporium until 1986. The restaurant then changed hands several times. In 1991, John Bushnell and Robert Holley bought it and renamed it the Tumalo Feed Company. The restaurant’s menu was changed to include steak, seafood and mountain oysters — calves’ testicles, straight from a ranch. For 27 years, they’ve offered a culinary bridge between old and new Bend, retaining the rustic ambiance along with quality, turn-of-the-21st-century food and service.

Updating the image

On Jan. 1, Mitch and Jen Voth Thisius became the restaurant’s first new owners in more than a quarter century when they completed their purchase from Bushnell and Holley. Jen is a born-and-raised Bendite, a graphic artist by training; Mitch, a native Minnesotan, is a career food-and-beverage man.

Their restaurant is officially The Historic Tumalo Food Co. Steakhouse. “We intend to keep the pioneer spirit that makes this restaurant so special,” Mitch Thisius said. “Even in our planned renovations and menu changes, we want to keep the sense of frontier.”

To that end, Mitch said, the restaurant has reduced its former menu by about one-third, but it’s slowly reintroducing wild-game specials, including quail and elk.

The most obvious signs of change are on the tables, where navy-blue tablecloths add sophistication to the dining experience. Tiny kerosene lanterns decorate each of the tables, backed by bordello-red Victorian wallpaper.

Animal heads and lassos adorn many of the walls, and display cases showcase photographs and artifacts of a century in Tumalo. Local musicians, including longtime Feed Company favorite Pat Thomas, perform Friday and Saturday evenings in the lounge.

Great service and steaks

As for the service — well, I cannot remember the last time a Central Oregon server asked me, a couple of bites after delivering my steak dinner: “Are the temperatures of your meat correct?”

That’s the mark of a true professional, assuring that medium rare is medium rare. And the man was top-notch from start to finish: He was prompt, efficient, accurate and most of all gracious throughout the meal, making our dining experience a pleasure.

My dining companion and I started with an appetizer of mushrooms ($10.95), stuffed with green-chile cream cheese, garlic, bacon and caramelized onions, roasted in a cast-iron skillet. There were eight large mushrooms, and they were delicious.

A side salad ($1.95) of mixed greens was sufficiently large for my companion to share a few bites with me. The mixed greens were served with sliced pickled beets, pear tomatoes, cucumbers and tiny cornbread croutons.

That was the accompaniment to her steak and quail combo dinner ($29.95). She found her small, oven-roasted quail — rubbed with garlic and herbs, brushed with olive oil and red-wine vinegar — to be delicious but, not surprisingly, not enough for a meal in itself. (The quail entree has two birds.) The 8-ounce flatiron steak, charbroiled, was a thick cut, and accompanying Yukon Gold mashed potatoes were perfectly prepared.

On our server’s suggestion, I ordered a steak Oscar ($37.95), a 7-ounce filet mignon wrapped in a savory slice of bacon. Topped with three asparagus spears and a trio of lightly grilled, medium-sized shrimp, it was presented with bearnaise sauce and lemon wedges.

A baked potato came with four complements (bacon, chives, sour cream and cheese). I was disappointed only with a bland side of steamed spinach; I would have done better choosing sauteed vegetables, ranch-style pinto beans or coleslaw.

(Editor’s note: This story has been corrected. In the original version, the history of the restaurant and the building were incorrect.

The Bulletin regrets the errors.)

— John Gottberg Anderson can be reached at .